Alder Buckthorn

Frangula alnus

  1. Wildlife
  2. Trees and shrubs
  3. Alder Buckthorn


Alder Buckthorn is a small, thornless tree of wet woodland, riverbanks and heathlands. It is widespread, but scarce, across England and Wales. Clusters of pale green flowers appear in late spring and bunches of red berries ripen to a purple-black colour in autumn. Both Alder and Purging Buckthorn are the main foodplants of the Brimstone Butterfly.

How to identify

A close relative of Purging Buckthorn, Alder Buckthorn can be distinguished by its narrower leaves with wavy margins and rounded tips, as well as its red (turning purple) berries.

Where to find it

Widespread in England and Wales.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Alder Buckthorn, along with many other hedgerow species, supports a range of invertebrates which, in turn, feed predators. The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves and hedgerows sympathetically for all kinds of species. A mix of coppicing, hedgelaying, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland and hedgerow wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for butterflies.

Species information

Common name
Alder Buckthorn
Latin name
Frangula alnus
Trees and shrubs
Height: 3-6m
Conservation status